Dear Diary... September 2023

Saturday 30th September - Strictly Not Bobbins

It was nice to have had a good night's sleep, and with The Love In My Heart all snuggled up with Brian the cat (well of course he has to get first dibs on his Mummy!) and with The Cute Little One waking up from her cot with such a big smile on her face, it made sense for us all to get up. In fact, there was an insistence on watching "dollies" on Youtube, which is effectively people putting together accessory sets for dolls and then showing the dolls with them - for some reason she loves it, and maybe getting an idea for something for her own dolls too.

We all had breakfast and it was nice just to be able to relax, and The Cute Little One was being super cute and said to me "You were on the train, choo choo!" as to how I got here last night. We then decided to head out to New Islington and the marina, where we could feed some of the ducks and Canadian geese around. The geese were on it when they saw we had food, and we took turns to throw them some food, which they appreciated. In fact it was just nice to walk together and The Cute Little One wanted me to carry her for a bit too so she could look around and be the tallest. Awww.

We did also pop into Marks and Spencer for a little bit of shopping, and then Aldi too, where she was so well behaved, even seeing a nice coat which we got for her in Marks and Spencer. And straight away with some rain coming, hood on, hands in pockets, looking all cool. We got back just before it started hammering it down with rain and it was nice to spend some quality time together, and she was super happy when her parents arrived, giving her Daddy a big hug. It's just really nice that The Cute Little One gets on well with me and that I feel included too, makes me feel very humble that does.

After that, with the weather still not great, we headed out for a couple of afternoon drinks, first of all to Track, where it was pretty busy with people and a DJ playing some tunes, and a posh pizza stall inside. They had some extra beers on for their own mini Oktoberfest, and you had a card where could get a stamp at each of the four local tap rooms, and then get some freebies if you so wanted. We did head over later on to Cloudwater and sat in the barrel store outside, facing the front and seeing the rain outside but in the dry, and we had some lovely beer in there too. The only thing not so lovely - Man City losing 2-1 at Wolves. Meh.

We had some tea later on and it was then time for Strictly Come Dancing - and the second week with all fifteen celebrities and their pro partners on. With each couple doing two dances, at least it gave you an idea if they were any good or not. Some definitely fared better than others: we did think that Bobby Brazier with Dianne Buswell did pretty well, and Layton Williams with Nikita Kuzmin at the end were the dance of the night, a real sense of passion and power there. Some were less good though, not least Les Dennis muddling through his dance - we both felt sorry for Nancy Xu being partnered with someone not so good.

There were some decent tunes throughout too which of course made it more enjoyable to watch as you'd see what the dancers would do choreography wise with the piece of music. Having AC/DC's ace Thunderstruck the basis for a paso doble was a genius move, and with the thunder possibly coming down overnight, then definitely tune of the day for me. I have to say that it was a good show all round and nice that it was effectively giving everyone a good go before the first couple would head off in the dance off tomorrow.

Friday 29th September - Train Of Pain

I must admit it was relatively nice last weekend not having to take a long distance train, even if my friends were doing that to come and see me (which is as always massively appreciated.) It had been a busy and long week of work, which is why you may not have noticed many diary entries during the week - I've been really brain frazzled by the end of the day and I just want to get home, have some food and basically relax for the evening. On the positive side, I suppose that it's a nice re-alignment of the time spent overall and when I feel the mojo there for other things too, that is always better when you are motivated.

One thing I did remember to think of today though was a potential solution to an issue I've seen happen when testing out some Intune and Azure stuff - and it's all down to the multi factor auth provider and their configuration. As my manager was actually in yesterday and today I could demonstrate the issue to him face to face (rather than over screen) and it was clear from there that it was something that potentially could be resolved, even finding a knowledge base article to be able to do the business with. So hopefully once some dust settles we can see what happens there next week.

I also did of course think forward in that the next Microsoft Configuration Manager update is now to version 2309, so effectively two updates a year instead of three. It makes more sense as it can be more closely aligned with the potential Autumn yearly updates for Windows 11 (for example) and indeed have some more features more road tested before adding them in. Ironically it's the same six month cycle Windows 10 went for in terms of year release before they went H1 and H2 on us, with now just a H2 release each year for Windows 11 (and no further releases beyond 22H2 for Windows 10 too.)

So it was a good productive day and with The Love In My Heart at home with The Cute Little One, who was staying overnight, I headed over to Euston to get the 1853 train to Manchester Piccadilly. Due to train drivers' strikes tomorrow, Euston was busier so was glad to escape up to the Signal Box for a swift half before then getting to the platform for my train. It did seem a bit odd that it was quiet, and then I overheard the train manager say that they needed to locate a driver. This wasn't going to be good and was tempted to see if I could be let o the next one the 1913 instead.

Anyway, the train did set off, 15 minutes late, and pretty much kept to that delay and beyond all the way to Manchester Piccadilly, arriving some 20 minutes behind schedule. As it turned out I did have the iPod on with some quality tunes including Kristin Hersh's new album Clear Pond Road, and from that there's a number of lovely tracks but for me, Constance Street is just beautiful and melodic, and so tune of the day was an easy choice as the train eventually got into Manchester to be reunited with The Love and indeed see how cute The Cute Little One was, all tucked up and asleep.

Sunday 24th September - Strictly Sunday

It was a relatively early rise for my friends and I, and once we had some coffee I got some croissants in the oven so we could have those for breakfast, and that went down well. We did leave a little earlier than normal because of the fact we had to book some earlier trains (due to the price difference being some £40 cheaper) and also because of the engineering work meaning the trains were being diverted via Streatham and Tulse Hill to Blackfriars, avoiding London Bridge. We got to East Croydon in good time and headed on the train, managing to get a group of four seats together as we headed northbound.

We made it to St Pancras and walked over to Kings Cross, and all in good time for one of the trains to say the first set of goodbyes before then walking another friend over to Euston, and stopping off in the Sainsburys for a meal deal before he boarded. The Euston Platforms app came to the rescue again of course, so he got on well before everyone else (which I know The Love In My Heart approves of) so that was really positive to see. I made my way back to St Pancras and off to get the train back to mine so I could then make sure all the airbeds were deflated and any sheets etc all washed and vacuum packed away ready for next time.

I spent the day doing some catch up on telly, including last night's Strictly Come Dancing, which I know The Love In My Heart would have watched of course. Claudia Winkleman looked lovely in her outfit (The Love had said I would approve!) and one by one the fifteen couples did their thing on the dance floor. Some were better than others, and for me four pairs stood out above the rest: two of them were Ellie Leach (Faye Windass from Coronation Street) and her partner Vito Coppola doing some fast paced jive and doing a good job, Layton Williams glammed up the samba with Nikita Kuzmin too (the same sex couple this year.)

As for the other two standouts, Nigel Harman (from Casualty and former Eastenders alumni) did a paso doble to Nirvana's seminal Smells Like Teen Spirit with Katya Jones, and it was the best dance of the night - powerful, passionate and spot on. I did of course sing along to the Weird Al Yankovic version Smells Like Nirvana, so that has to be tune of the day for me without question. The other good couple for me were Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice, whose real soulful mood in their passionate dance captured the broken hearted feel too which she portrayed really well.

I did have a good natter with The Love later on, and she had been with her sister to RHS Bridgewater and loved it - very much bigger than she thought it was, with plenty to explore and some nice places to get a coffee and have some food there too. In fact you can go in the café for free as it's before you pay to go in the gardens, so might be somewhere nice to get coffee and cake in the future too. We did also discuss Strictly, and she had pretty much thought the same as I did about who did well, so that is a positive, and I can't wait to see her next weekend. As much as it has been brilliant with friends, I do miss her lots too.

Saturday 23rd September - Super Saturday

After a good night's sleep, myself and friends headed up and I made us all some sausage barms for breakfast, as it was good to do and get ourselves some solid food down for the day, and had some coffee and orange juice also. We did also venture out to Bonus Stage (as it's now called, formerly Playnation) in the centre of Croydon. I did pick up the original Zzap! Sampler cassette (with the B-side of the Rob Hubbard Thalamusik) for 99p along with Mail Trail for the C16 and Plus/4 computers for the same price, not the easiest game to find generally so good to locate that - and one of our friends got a Megadrive game too.

It was then off to the local Tenpin for some bowling action. We did book three games as sometimes it doesn't feel like you have enough time just doing the two, and although it's not that cheap these days, we thought it would be well worth getting the time in. As it turned out we were in lane 24 right at one end so was fairly quiet until the third game when a children's party taking three lanes and having 16 players in all turned up, with some of the children running amok and getting in the way twice of one of my friend's attempts to run down to bowl. It could have easily been an accident and some of those parents weren't responsible enough.

Anyway, that aside the three games proved to be good solid affairs, even with the fact the pins are on strings these days which has been proven to give you less strikes than standard freestanding pins do (because the free standing ones can rebound anywhere!) - the first game actually had a tie with me and one friend having 100 points each in total, the second one had a winning score of 115 from one of the friends, and I took the last one with a 128 win and had a strike and three spares on the bounce which helped the score a fair bit too - and some quality spare pickups from all of us.

We then took the tram back to the centre of Croydon and got off at Central to head to West Croydon station (as the actual tram stop is only good for the westbound platform, we wanted the other way. We just about managed to get the train to head out to Gipsy Hill, where alas Fanny the station cat was at home and recuperating and so not available for being super cute, but we walked down to the Gipsy Hill brewery tap room, which had food and drink stalls outside with all sorts of street food, and that was at least good. Inside was pretty quiet, so we got a table and enjoyed some drinks in there, including a guest being the Fierce Beer's Cerveza, which I raved about to the friends, and they enjoyed it too. Add to that This Charming Man by The Smiths in the background (make that tune of the day) and all was well.

After some drinks in there we headed back to the train station and took the train to West Croydon and then from there walked over to the Spread Eagle for a drink. I hadn't been in there since it became a Whelan's Pub instead of a Fuller's one. Thankfully the inside is still as nice as it is and we found a nice corner table to chatter there, and after that it was then over to Art and Craft for a nice pint in there too. In fact it was pretty good to be able to sit by the window and watch the world go by, which was always a positive thing to be honest. I did enjoy the beer from the Pretty Decent brewery, called I Could Get Better In Tesco For A Quid, a session pale that hit the spot.

The final beer port of call was the Dog and Bull, along with its outside beer garden and little patio heated booths to sit in. We enjoyed that and plenty of chatter along the way too, and had the Laine Brewery's mango beer which really did hit the spot well. Before we knew it, it was late in the day and we went over to Tops Pizza to get some nice takeout pizza to have back at the flat, and with the highlights of Manchester City's win over Nottingham Forest via Match of the Day on iPlayer, a really nice way to wind down at the end of the night having had such a good time.

Friday 22nd September - Fantastic Friday

After a long week at work, albeit with four days only and two of those being in the office until fairly late, it was nice to be able to wind down today and look forward to the weekend, with the visit of some friends for the weekend. I had been able to prep a little in advance and had blown up the air beds and got all the bedding ready for later in the day, as well as then clean up all of the flat and have the food shopping delivered from Sainsburys too - and no substitutions which would affect anything, so definitely a bonus for me there. I spent some of the morning also making sure that I had all the stuff ready for later, so Commodore 64 out as needed, as well as prep a USB stick too for other things.

At around 1.45 I headed off to West Croydon station, as I was taking the fast train from there to London Bridge, changing there and taking the Thameslink to Farringdon and hopping on the Metropolitan line to Euston Square. The reason for doing it that way was that because you're going from and to TfL managed stations, you get charged £3.50 off peak which is way cheaper than starting from East Croydon and paying £5.70 for the same journey. I was also meeting one of my friends off their train at Euston, so a short walk from Euston Square later and I was at Euston in good time.

I was keeping an eye on both trains friends were on using the tracker on Realtime Trains and knew that the train was late coming in to Euston, primarily due to it being a busy train but also other trains seemed to be delayed at the same time. As it transpired it was around 17 minutes delayed, so there would be a Delay Repay claim to make at some point. My friend arrived safely, and we walked down to Kings Cross station where our other two friends would also be arriving, and that worked out fine as I had told them to wait at the front and we'd be on our way and so all was well.

We walked over to St Pancras to get the train to East Croydon, and due to one train being cancelled it did take a little time for us to be able to get on a train, but had tapped in before 4pm so it was golden for the lower price and offpeak. As it transpired once past Farringdon the train was busy but we all had a seat together, so was able to chatter and catch up which was really good. We then got off at East Croydon where the heavens opened a bit, but that was to be the only rain all weekend.

It was off to the Cronx Tap as it was their official opening (even though it had already been open for a few weeks anyway) and the Mayor of Croydon had been there along with councillors and other guests. We did manage to get a free third pint sampler of one of their beers, which was a good thing, and later on then also had a local cake and dessert business give out free cake too, so we enjoyed that one immensely. More freebies are a good thing to say the least, but the vibe was good and we were all relaxed in there and a good way to start the weekend off.

Back at mine I got us some food on, effectively a chicken and bacon pasta bake along with some garlic bread, nice and easy to do and made more sense to do that and have some tiramisu afterwards to enjoy, before then settling in to watch the Women's Nations League game between England and Scotland. It was competitive and we did discuss what effect VAR may have had on some of the decisions (a number of them as it turned out) but also a nice couple of England headed goals from Lucy Bronze and Lauren Hemp were enough to be able to win out for England in the end.

The evening ended nicely with a little quiz (which the friends had asked me to do as they enjoyed the last one that did, immensely, and that proved to be good fun, with five rounds all themed around the Commodore 64 with numerous different fun questions. Everyone did pretty well and they did say that I had made some of it a little easier - on reflection though I could have made the first round less tough, but the others seemed to have a good flow at least, which was a positive thing Tune of the day in fact is Cadillac Fantasy by Monotrona, which I featured in one of the questions. We ended up watching some footage on Youtube of old games and also getting a late night kebab or burger, and it was a really good day all round.

Sunday 17th September - Spinning Down The Ivy

After a light breakfast, The Love In My Heart and I got ready for a nice relaxing Sunday afternoon. We had booked the Ivy in Spinningfields, as The Love had recieved a gift voucher for use there from one of her nieces for Christmas, but we hadn't been able to get round to use it for whatever reason. We had indeed booked for the one in Leeds at the end of the month, but we had to cancel that due to the train strikes and the fact that we wouldn't be able to get there in time, boo. So we thought about it yesterday and was able to get a table for 2pm today, so that would be an enjoyable time together.

The Love looked gorgeous in her black dress with a little silver around the neck, coupled with her tights and boots. I felt so lucky to be honest (and always do) because she always looks classy and beautiful like that, and I had a nice shirt on so that we both looked good. We took the tram and got off at St Peter's Square, walking down to Deansgate and then cutting across past Wagamama and down to the Ivy, where the staff were as lovely as ever and showed us to our table, a nice litle cosy corner one with it all laid out beautifully for us both. Our server, Claudia, was really friendly and nice, and even came up with an alternative beer suggestion when my first choice of the First Chop Mango Pale was out of stock.

We had a really lovely main each: The Love had the chicken Milanese, which was lovely, with an egg on top and some fries on the side to go with it. There was also a bernaise sauce for the chicken which was gorgeous - in fact we both dipped the fries in that which was heavenly. I went for the fish and chips, and to be fair you got a good amount of fish, some mushy peas, tartare sauce and indeed a nice muslin cloth around the lemon, so when you squeezed it, the pips wouldn't come out. Nice touch that and the fish was lovely, and we both enjoyed our meal with a really nice chilled out atmosphere.

I was tempted by some of the desserts but then was temped by the cream tea - scones with jam and clotted cream and a hot drink of choice, so went for the latte for that. What we both didn't expect was three scones, we thought maybe two, but all good nice sized fruit scones with the jam and cream (and naturally, jam first!) as we both enjoyed those. Well worth it for the price we both thought, and we really did have a lovely time in there together. It's not something we'd do all the time as it isn't that cheap, but at the same time we know that it's worth it for special moments.

After that we headed over to the Oast House, and was able to sit outside with our beers as we had a woman playing an acoustic guitar on the small stage that they have there, and doing a number of cover versions of all sorts of songs, including Dreams by Fleetwood Mac and also She's Electric by Oasis, where a young boy of a family of passers by was bobbing his head and dancing to her, which made her smile. Needless to say of course parts of the lyric of said song is a lift from the theme tune to You and Me, a children's educational programme (and that's tune of the day.) The halcyon days of when that show had a reggae version of the theme (done by UB40 no less!) with the puppets Cosmo and Dibs!

We then headed to the Waterhouse later for a drink and we could watch the world go by facing the town hall, with its ongoing redevelopment which means that it won't be open until late 2024, and it did feel odd seeing it with the massive cover still on. It was a nice way to end the afternoon and then head on the tram back to The Love's place, where we'd relax a bit and I'd have one final fuss with Brian the cat before then heaidng back on the tram and to the train home. It had been a lovely day and I didn't want it to end, and a close to three hour train journey at least did speed by with the headphones on, thankfully.

Saturday 16th September - Strictly Is Back

It was nice to have a relaxing lie in with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat after having travelled up last night to Manchester. Of course, Brian is always being super cute and cuddly these days and there's nothing he likes better than snuggling up to his Mummy on the bed, having cuddles and tummy tickles. In fact he even lets me give him a fuss and a love as he knows Mummy is there, so tolerates it to a degree and does purr in appreciation.

Although the sound of very tiny purrs and miaows outside caught the attention of both of us, a tiny little cat wandering around outside and needless to say was very appreciative of the attention we gave it (even if Brian didn't agree!) - as it turned out one of The Love's neighbours has taken it in for now and is going to see if they can ring up the RSPCA or Cats Protection to find out more, so hopefully the little one will have a loving new home soon. We did give it some food and the little cat was so happy, miaowing in appreciation at the kindness being shown.

After The Love's sisters had popped round for a coffee and a chat (and we had some cake also which was very nice), we headed out as The Love had a new pair of shoes to collect from Next, and whilst at the local retail park we would also check out Home Bargains and also Pets at Home in case we needed to get Brian anything. As it turned out the click and collect at Next was easy (just as easy as my local one) and also The Love did get herself a sniuggly hot water bottle for the winter, a longer one which seemed to be just the thing - and of course some cat treats for Brian. We did then head over to the Sheldon Arms across the way for a nice drink together, and although tempted by the carvery, we were going to eat out tomorrow so didn't need to do anything now.

Later on The Love headed over to the local Asda to get some ingredients for tea - and made a superb lasagne which really hit the spot - all her own doing. She really does cook well and I consider myself very lucky that she is such a good cook like that. I also of course was keeping an eye on the football scores, and seeing Manchester City come back from 1-0 down to win 3-1 at West Ham United was a positive, and we played well - even more so as Manchester United lost at home 3-1 to Brighton and Hove Albion. Never felt more like singing the blues, of course.

The main thing we were watching tonight was the launch show of Strictly Come Dancing. Naturally we wanted to see who got paired up in terms of the celebrities and the pros, but there was some poignancy too as the cast paid tribute to the sadly departed Len Goodman, as well as wishing current pro Amy Dowden well on her road to recovery from her cancer. It was good to see that they did mix up the meeting of the pros from the celebrities, so each group of four or three had their own slot to meet up - which sort of made sense to a degree, even if it felt a little different.

The Love and I were surprised a little at the pairings, I could have imagined some of them (Amanda Abbington with Giovanni Pernice) but also a surprise was current pro champ Jowita Przystal paired with Jody Cundy. We did expect Kai Widdrington to be paired with Angela Rippon, he seems to have almost taken the Anton du Beke role now. Layton Williams paired with Nikita Guzman was a surprise, we thought odds on it'd be Johannes Radebe (he got paired with Annabel Croft, which definitely will be intriguing.) Also, must admit, we are liking the long dark hair on Nancy Xu, really suits her. And at the end, You Should Be Dancing by The Bee Gees (make that tune of the day) as the celebrities took their first steps.

Tuesday 12th September – Fixing

So last night I attempted to turn on the trusty PC – and nothing. Hmm. That was odd. I was pretty sure it was all working Friday evening and indeed I had only unplugged it on Saturday morning as I was having one of the walls in the flat repainted as part of some overall maintenance going on at present around the block I live in. I checked the case, made sure inside all the connections were good, but each time I tried the power button, no life. I did have a feeling though that maybe there had been something amiss as it had been slow to come on the last couple of times last week.

I don’t have all sorts of testing kit as such, but the one good thing I was able to check was to see if the solid state hard drive was okay – as I could use the little SATA to USB cable I have (which I used to get the data from The Love In My Heart’s old laptop hard drive) and make sure using the work laptop that the drive was readable. It was. That was at least something. So, with that in mind, I was able to source a refurbished unit which was the same make and model as what I have, so can basically switch over the hard drive, CD writer, graphics card etc and go from there. Fingers crossed I can get that sorted when it is delivered.

Back to today and it was off to the office and the first decent test of some migration procedures we’re testing as part of the workplace heads off to be their own entity. In essence my colleague and I have developed a script to remove the current MECM management client, then also remove the machine from the domain and use a bulk token provisioning package to ensure that it joins the new Azure AD instance and enrols in Intune. During testing it had worked well and so it was good to have a colleague go through it.

And the good news was that it all worked well. The main observations were one that I had already noted: because it’s a new account for the machine (because of it being an Azure AD login) it does mean some settings need to be recreated, and a sign in to Slack to recreate the profile there – but on the whole, provided most users follow some common sense, should be a lot easier than what it would be if we had to do everything manually. It is also handy because said person is one of the project managers and so they can at least verify the work done.

The other positive note to take was that the weather cooled down a lot tonight and was a positive once the rain had come down whilst on the SL6 bus heading home, which was busy it had to be said. I think that’ll help with sleep amongst other things but also, I do think that it’ll mean it’ll be more bearable when working from home tomorrow. I’ll see how it all pans out naturally as the week goes on but for me at least it has felt like a good day and one where I do feel rewarded for the work that I do.

I then watched England versus Scotland at Hampden Park and live on Channel 4. England were excellent throughout and a neat little move involving Jude Bellingham and Kyle Walker set up Phil Foden to slot home the opener, and Bellingham was there to capitalise on an Andy Robertson mistake to easily score for 2-0 – two goals in three minutes. Changes were made second half and for Harry Maguire coming on, that meant a defensive clearance became an own goal and so 2-1. England kept going and then Bellingham slotted the ball into Harry Kane, and he does what he does best – 3-1. England on top and a great win, with tune of the day being the superb World in Motion by New Order.

Sunday 10th September – The Heat Is On

It was a very hot and humid night last night and both myself and The Love In My Heart didn’t find it at all easy to sleep whatsoever. It just didn’t feel so right and we were both waking up to try and get some air, which just felt horrid and sticky. In fact, it was around 22 degrees centigrade overnight which is hugely uncomfortable. I didn’t want to do a full breakfast on the Sunday morning to be honest, and The Love agreed – I did us some bacon on toast and that really did hit the spot nicely as did a coffee for The Love also.

The Great North Run was on the BBC this morning and inevitably there was the focus on the fact it was Sir Mo Farah’s last race. After his fourth last Sunday in a London half marathon, I suspected he’d finish around there today and despite a brave attempt to go out with the leaders, that was where he finished. It was good to see that the weather really did seem a little cooler there although still warm for running, so people were taking it easier and making sure that they went slower to finish instead of going for a super-fast time.

We then went into the centre of Croydon for a mooch around the shops, and in fact I was able to get some of the smaller giraffes on the Croydon Stands Tall trail at the same time – there were three inside Marks and Spencer, tow inside Superdrug, another two in WH Smith and two more at the front of HSBC, so good to collect those I thought. The Love did get a few bits from Primark and the aircon in there was delightful on such a warm and sticky day that today was still being at present – I have to say.

We picked up The Love’s case and it was then off to the Cronx Tap for a welcome drink in the aircon – I had the Nektar pale this time which was excellent, and there were some quality tunes being played including Ghost Town by The Specials – make that tune of the day for obvious reasons. In fact, it was just a relaxed vibe all round with people having a drink and a leisurely one at that. I could have stayed there all-day truth be told and it definitely will be being visited by me regularly, we loved it. It was then off to East Croydon to get the train and the Victoria Line tube – in this weather. Ugh.

However, it all proved worth it as we’d booked a table in the Crown and Anchor, one of our favourite haunts, and the aircon was on there too, so definitely well worth it. I had the fish and chips and the batter on the fish was nice and crispy, something The Love would approve of wholeheartedly. She had the burger which looked spot on too, and later I had the rather nice Railway Porter from the Five Points Brewery which really did pack a nice punch – and had the Gipsy Hill Bandit ale before that with the lunch. It got busier as the rugby union came on but we had a table and were all cool.

I felt rather sad as I walked with The Love to Euston and made sure she got on the 1732 train home okay and had a hug and kiss. It was a lovely end to a lovely weekend and despite the heat, we had made the most of our time and had a fab time. It really does show that in a good way that we do make it count and that we’ll have some nice special memories from this weekend to look back on with plenty of fondness. As I relaxed in the evening with some telly and trying to cool off, I thought of the prospect of another busy week at work.

Saturday 9th September – Double Dining Out

It was a busy day today as The Love In My Heart was heading down to see me for the weekend, and today we were dining out twice – one of which was a freebie, and another with lovely company. I was able to at least get some sleep last night but it was difficult – the heat and humidity has been increasing over the last few days and I have to say it’s been useful to be in the office with the aircon and being at home on the Friday did show the difference in terms of how bearable the heat was – I was glad to escape that for a little while during the evening.

The Love’s train was all on time and all good, and once I got myself up and ready and showered, it was over to East Croydon to meet up with her. She did look lovely in her outfit but would be getting changed later before we would be out again, so we stopped off at mine for a while, had a cold drink and a good chatter as well which was good. I did have the windows open and the fans going to try and keep the heat off as much as I could, but the humidity really was close and was telling, so was glad to at least face some nice aircon trains later.

We headed back to East Croydon, and took the train to London Bridge before changing there for the Southeastern train to Charing Cross, as this was near where we were going. At Christmas, our friends had given us a Red Letter Days experience which was afternoon tea at Mr White’s (a Marco Pierre White restaurant no less) and that was in Leicester Square. It was a sparkling afternoon tea so we would be getting prosecco as well as the tea, sandwiches, and cakes. We got there in good time and the staff were all lovely, showing us to our table and then making sure we had the pots of tea and prosecco on their way.

The afternoon tea itself was nice – four different types of sandwiches including smoked salmon with cream cheese, ham and mustard, beef and horseradish, so they really were dainty and nice. The next level up had two nice macarons and some scones with jam and clotted cream, then the upper level had some cakes including a lemon cheesecake which really was zesty. In fact we both saved the scone until last as it was warmed up nicely and meant we did the proper Cornish way (jam first folks) and the cream tea part was ours at the end, with the glass of prosecco going down well.

Later on we then walked out of Leicester Square, followed the roads towards Covent Garden and then to Maiden Lane for a visit to the Porterhouse, where it’s always quirky but lovely – and the Oyster Stout was on form as per usual. The place was busy due to the Rugby Union World Cup and no less than Ireland absolutely hammering Romania, much to the delight of many of the people who were there. It was then onwards along to the Strand and back to Charing Cross and onwards to East Croydon, and time to shower and change at mine later prior to having company for the evening.

I went to East Croydon later to meet up with The Love’s niece and her boyfriend, and I walked them over to mine so they could see the place – they both loved it. We relaxed with a drink at mine with lots of catch up and chatter, and then it was off to the South End and the restaurant quarter. I had booked us a table for four at Aqua, which is a nice Mediterranean place that The Love and I have been to a few times, and always had a good experience. Tonight was absolutely no exception and the food was superb.

The Love’s niece had the kleftiko, which was lamb on the bone but just melted off the bone so wonderfully well, and that along with some potatoes and vegetables looked superb. Her boyfriend went for the fish platter, which had all sorts of fish including swordfish steak and tuna, and really all seasoned well with some rice and vegetables. They were trying bits from each other’s plates to enjoy the experience, which was a good idea. The Love had her usual souvlaki chicken, cooked on a skewer along with rice and vegetables, and really did fill the gap well. I did the seafood tagliatelle which had plenty of seafood and pasta in a lovely sauce – and they gave you a bowl for the scallop shells once you got the scallop itself out.

We all agreed it had been a lovely time and the food was spot on for everyone. I was glad and like the niece’s boyfriend said, you can tell the good ones when they are busy during the week – which this one is having been past. We ended up in the Cronx Tap with the lovely aircon and some gorgeous drinks too – I had the Koop Island pale first off and then later I had the really lovely Das Cronx maizen German style beer, which really did hit the spot. The Cronx’s own beers aren’t that expensive and it did mean we could relax together, have lots more chat and have some top tunes on in the background including A Town Called Malice by The Jam (make that tune of the day) and all was well. We walked the niece and boyfriend back to East Croydon station and they managed to get their train home in good time, and we then attempted to get some sleep in the pretty humid weather.

Thursday 7th September – Testing, Testing, One Two Three

It was the fourth day of tour on the bounce with me being in the office today, primarily due to the aircon in the office being a miles better option than the current heatwave at home. Of course, the express SL6 bus being early morning does mean it is bearable before the sun comes out in full, and that also means I’ve been able to use that to have some thinking time before arriving in the office and formulating a plan of action to make a script my colleague and I have been writing work as we wanted it to work.

One thing I do remember to do is that there is an easy way to check and confirm if a computer is connected to an Active Directory domain controller. The main reasoning for this is that when removing a machine from a domain and selecting a local workgroup, if connected to the domain you need a domain account with enough rights to do so – but if not, you don’t. So, the results of Test-ComputerSecureChannel is either true or false either way, but then you can flag that easily and then use it to say if true, do this and if not, do this.

I even added a section to write that status to one of the text log files we’re writing as we go, which was an improvement and when testing it, all scenarios did work and worked well. There was a case of running through the other possibilities but in each case the testing was robust and showed that it was the right thing to do. We may need to keep looking at a possibility of creating a local account but that doesn’t seem to play ball as the SYSTEM user (which it would be doing if it was running from MECM) so there is more work needed right there.

I headed off home on the SL6 and there’s always someone who doesn’t realise it’s an express bus isn’t there? They wanted to get off not far from Waterloo but then realised that it was next stop West Norwood, which it clearly says on the front. They had to head back on the 68 later but was cursing the driver as if it was their fault for it all. The regular passengers just gave that person a look which showed that really, they didn’t have a clue. I’m just surprised it doesn’t happen more often as people blindly board a bus sometimes without knowing where it’s going.

It was good to try and relax a little bit in the evening and I’ve been getting back into playing some classic DOS games that I’ve had since my original Windows 95 PC, so the sort of thing like Pinball Illusions, of course best played on the Amiga, but an effective PC conversion nonetheless. I really do like the music for the extreme sports table from that one (make that one tune of the day) and for me an excellent set of Olof Gustafsson pieces, with a heavy emphasis on metal and guitars throughout.

Sunday 3rd September - Revolutionary Birthdays (Not Of Italy)

It was nice to have a relaxing morning and Brian the cat had got me up early, wanting some Dreamies (as he is prone to do of course.) To be fair to Brian that wake up did mean I could watch the rest of Match of the Day that I didn't watch last night - I had watched the City game and then headed off to bed as it had been a long day. I was then able to relax with some breakfast with The Love and she had Escape to the Country on for some easy like Sunday morning sort of relaxation - in fact the Faith No More version of Easy is tune of the day for that reason.

We were heading out to meet a couple of friends, one of whom had their birthday yesterday and so was having the most of an extended weekend of celebrations (and why not?) and so we'd arranged to meet at Tarriff and Dale close to Piccadilly Station on Dale Street. The Love and I did have an excellent Sunday Roast last time we were there and the beer selection was decent too, so thought that'd be good. When our friend turned up he explained that his partner had to head off home because he had been poorly on the way in, and so it was just the three of us. Not that it dampened our enthusiasm or anything, we were going to make the most of it and have a good time.

In fact, Tarriff and Dale had the Shindigger mango pale ale so that was me sorted, and I had the chicken supreme roast, which was properly nice and lots of chicken along with roasties, mash, tenderstem broccoli, carrots and gravy. The Love had the pork belly which was good, and our friend had this really nice vegetable salad which came in this huge bowl and had beans and pulses in too - it did look well presented and he said that it was really good, so all positives there. We handed over some nice little presents which were good, and also was asked about the place we had stayed in Northumberland a few years back, so wll send that info over.

After a lovely lunch we decided to head to Diecast to see what our friend made of it - and it was sunny after all so may as well make the use of the nice weather, right? In fact it was all good and we got a table outside, and The Love and our friend were both on the daiquiris, where you have them frozen and served from a machine which had the different flavours. The sour cherry one perhaps looked the most interesting, but they were very popular and lots of people were having them. I did go for the Thornbridge Jaipur which was of course spot on, b but Diecast's own Helles lager was decent too I have to say.

Much chatter ensued and our friend and I were happily remembering the classic Bambi episode from The Young Ones, including the fact that they have to go the launderette and then realising they need to head to the station in rapid time for University Challenge, complete with the Alexei Sayle "Revolutionary Biscuits of Italy" song too, which we had great joy in reciting. The Love doesn't have the same sense of humour as us two sometimes, but that's fine - each to their own. I think what prompted it was that one of the flavours of the daiquiri was Garabaldi, like the biscuit, so of course we then head to mention the Peak Freans assortment, as you do! It was sad to head home later, but we had a good time!

Saturday 2nd September - Haaland Hat Trick

It was nice to be up and have a lie in with The Love In My Heart this morning, and Brian the cat was doing his best to distract his Mummy and get us up earlier. However, he soon realised that Mummy was going nowhere and so after I got up and watched some telly, he thought it was a perfect time to cuddle up instead, and snuggled on the bed. I think he was waiting for me to leave so he could instead have the bed all to himself and his Mummy. What is he like? I did manage to tune in to some catch up I missed last night and then we were both up and having some nice breakfast.

It was good to take things relatively easy before I was off to the Etihad Stadium later today, and also was able to see some of the Diamond League athletics from Xiamen in China. It looked a good stadium and there were some good performances across the evening's events, including an excellent women's discus throw which was pretty close to call. I have to say that it was a flick between that and the FA Cup First Qualifying Round game between Sporting Khalsa and Darlaston Town, which was on the red button and proved to be a good game - with a 2-2 draw meaning a replay in midweek (none of this wait 10 days malarkey here.)

I headed off to the Etihad, and it was the North Stand for me today and close to the back of block 137 and a decent view behind the goal. Naturally a better view for the second half, but was high enough to see what was going on, and Fulham were today's visitors who had been to Arsenal last week and got a very creditable 2-2 draw, so not to be underestimated whatsover. However, they had some transfer turmoil with the window which I hoped disturbed them a little bit and meant that City could keep up their 100% league record for another week (and into the international break also.)

City started well and looked like new signing Jeremy Doku was settling in, getting good praise for tracking back and winning tackles as well as offering a good run down the left. He and Phil Foden swapped sides and both of them tried to get down the wings and cross in, with a couple of decent chances during the half. In fact, it was the left side which led to the opener, as Mateo Kovacic fed Erling Haaland, who saw Julian Alvarez in the centre of the box and slotted it to him for the Argentinian to finish well for 1-0. City fell asleep though and from the kick off Fulham had a corner, the shot came in and was parried only straight to Tim Ream who had the most simple tap in from a yard out to make it 1-1.

As half time approached, City did score a second - but looking at it later, that goal should not have been given and the referees and VAR had a howler. Foden took the corner and Nathan Aké headed into the bottom corner. The header was good, but Manuel Akanji was offside and jumped over the ball so as not to touch it, but was in the direct line of the ball, so how he can't be interfering with play I have no idea. I can fully get why the Fulham players and their manager Marco Silva were so cheesed off with it, had it gone the other way I think the referee might have needed an escort off the pitch.

So we did ride the luck but in the second half City turned it on big time. Alvarez and Haaland were lethal together and the through ball from Alvarez was aimed for Haaland, the defender gave it to him with an error and the ball was slotted home in the bottom corner for 3-1. City were cruising now and Alvarez was bundled over in the box for what to me looked a little soft on the penalty front. Unlike last week at Sheffield United Haaland didn't make a mistake whatsoever and drilled it into the bottom left hand corner (I had a great view of this one) and to make it 4-1, and it the points were ours.

Naturally as a lot of people have, I do have Erling Haaland as my Fantasy League captain (and good on you if you went and used triple captain this week) and wanted another goal. A fair number of fans left with 10 minutes to go, and I kept thinking "You've paid so much for a ticket, stay til the end!" - especially as I've seen so many late goals, not least of course Agüerooooooooo. Anyway, some good movement down the left from City saw Sergio Gomez drill in a perfect cross to the edge of the six yard box, and welll, you know the rest, Haaland was having some of that and it was a hat trick, and 5-1 to City. In fact, Son Heung-Min also had a hat trick for Tottenham away to Burnley, and later Evan Ferguson of Brighton and Hove Albion would score one against Newcastle United, so three in one day, first time in the top flight since 1995.

Later on The Love made some lovely chicken wrapped in ham along with some vegetables, and a nice cheese sauce, which was excellent, and we watched The Hit List with Marvin and Rochelle Humes. One team on there did amazing and scored the highest ever cash prize on that show in the final round, smashing it totally. I liked the animal themed second round with the first question being a artist or band with animals in the name, the second one being in the song title. Naturally this meant the likes of Hounds of Love by Kate Bush, Baby Shark (yes, really!) along with the ace Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran (got to be tune of the day that one!)

Friday 1st September - Beer Rotation In The 21st Century

The Love in My Heart and I were both off to work this morning, but to avoid the train strikes I had come up last night, on a very busy and delayed train too, so much so that it looked like I was going to get a nice tidy Delay Repay sum back too - and indeed an automated claim was generated for me to submit. By the time I'd got to Stoke on Trent and knew that the train was going to be over 15 minutes late, I wanted to keep it there to get the money back, as realistically you can't make up that time between there and Manchester, so made sense to just then take the tram over to The Love's place last night, as she was on an early start today.

Working at The Love's certainly is a nice bonus to have Brian the cat on the pouffle being utterly adorable and just watching the world go by. There are though some works going on at The Love's block of flats at the moment which does mean some noise during the day. I did have one meeting but decided it was headphones on and to mute the headset when not speaking, so minimising any noise feedback during that. A fair number of questions were also asked too so that did go quite well in the end it has to be said.

The Love's early start meant an early finish, and so that meant for both of us we would have some late afternoon quality time together. As the weather was set fair, albeit cloudy, we decided to take one of our favourite walks and head along the Ashton Canal, past the old gasometers and factories that back on to Old Mill Street, and then towards new developments. One such back garden had a small cat in which was basically mini-Brian, and The Love gave it a fuss and some cuddles and tummy tickles as it came to the fence for a fuss and a play, so that was pretty nice.

We then walked along New Islington Marina and stopped off at Cask, for a well earned drink together. It was nice to be sat by the canal and The Love had the Manchester Union Lager, and I went for a nice session ale - they did have the fab Sonoma by Track on cask, but it's way cheaper to go to the Track tap room for that, so was saving that for when I next go there. We did then head over by the canal and Great Ancoats Street to the little shopping centre there, and went in the Marks and Spencer Outlet for a mooch - some of the reductions were good and The Love picked up a couple of things.

As we exited around the back and followed the road around to Ducie Street, we noted a building with all lights on outside, and wondered what it was. We then went down the ramp and in, and spotted that it was a fairly new thing that had opened - Diecast. It was a former diecast model factory hence the name (think like Matchbox toys for example) and had been converted to an events space as well as a bar and restaurant. They had outside seating and also converted caravans which had really posh booths inside which you could book, and that looked intriguing. We did have a drink here and I had the Lucky Saint, and the vibe was really nice actually.

So much so that rather than cooking or get a takeout, we thought "well it's tea time, so why not?" and ordered, to share, a pepperoni pizza and some waffle fries. They were both gorgeous and I have to say it was well cooked, with the pizza having a Naples style crust but a crispy base too, so definitely held very well. The Love and I were impressed, and definitely somewhere we'll come back to as well. The music being played was nice but not in your face too, something you always appreciate more when you can talk at a normal volume. I can recommend it highly.

We then walked downhill and around the back of Piccadilly Station to the arches on Sheffield Street, and arch number 4 used to have Track back in the day - it now has Sureshot, a small local brewer and a nice taproom too. We got there just before 6pm so was still happy hour pricing on their beer: The Love had The Best Penguin in the World, which was a Köln style lager and very nice too, and I had their session Small Man's Wetsuit. The price during this time? £7.50 for the two pints, total bargain that, and both were fab. They even had a new beer called I Will Now Sell Five Copies Of The Three EPs by The Beta Band, which I was tempted to try out (and from one of those EPs, Dry The Rain is tune of the day. If you know, you know.